Hoteliers: wake up - something from Google for freeNews / OnlineBy Viewpoints | September 19, 2013Share This article was originally published on NB: This is a viewpoint from Pedro Colaco, president and CEO of GuestCentric.The vast majority of hoteliers agrees that even though daily duties comprise a diversity of tasks, your ultimate goal is to close sales.To do so, digital marketing is extremely important as it contributes to the achievement of ambitious goals through high conversion rates.Digital marketing is an entire world that can decisively contribute in enhancing sales in a myriad of ways. Virtual tours are just one of the ways that describe this world and as soon as you finish reading this article this should come as no surprise.Hotel’s sales can be broken into many pieces, which as a whole explain the properties business, and virtual tours are one of these fundamental pieces.They are an accurate reflection of a location simply obtained through a sequence of images, which can significantly influence your business. But the relationship between both might not be crystal clear.Nonetheless, with the following advantages, we believe hoteliers will understand the importance of this new trend.1. If a picture tells more than 1,000 words, a virtual tour is worth a lot more.With high quality images, visitors can experience the facilities without having been there by "walking through" the hotel and not just "seeing through" like in the past.Decision-making is made easy with accurate information that describes properties and showcase what to expect for the money paid. Choices are founded on a real view rather than a hunch of what the property looks like. Reaching out for credit cards is safer and is less prone to unfortunate surprises.2. Cost effective marketing tool.Numbers speak for themselves; virtual tours reduce the amount of wasted viewings by 40%, says Property Week.This means they are responsible for increasing the likelihood of visitors closing a sale while navigating in your website. Moreover, pictures are taken simply once to build the virtual tour but stay available for an infinite amount of views, improving the return on investment dramatically.A cost friendly and truly timesaving marketing technique.3. Interactive tour, controlled by your clients.The tour is entirely on your client’s fingertips. The decisions of what to view and when is on their hands.Thus, all clients will be satisfied as the website is tailored to the different needs or priorities; they only view what is of their interest at their own pace. Having virtual tours is the most efficient way of allowing visitors to interact with your property, without being physically present.Viewers can pan up, down, left, right and zoom in when appealed to look for further details. Customer’s interaction with hotels stepped up into a whole new level.4. First long-lasting impression.It is always about first impressions and people hardly ever forget them, they generally trust instincts. So, why not leverage on creating a positive first impression?Virtual tours are eye-catching features that gain users’ attention. Characterized by being memorable, they lead to an enduring visual and emotional impact. Alluring and fun, the ultimate “wow” factor. Virtual tours consist in value-added experiences that provide a cutting edge marketing tool to hotels that adopt them."Sticky" content that keeps visitor longer on your page. Sticky content is known for drawing users’ attention, as is the case of chat rooms or online forums.Virtual tours are yet another example of sticky content that actually generate sticky websites. Websites endowed with these tours get users to return to that particular website, hold their attention and get them to spend longer periods on the website. It is a successful mean of gaining new customers and retaining old ones, as it keeps them interested.And there is more.The "cherry on top of the cake" is that the more potential clients are on your page, the less time they spend on competitor’s pages.Says Pew Internet: "A site with a 360 virtual tour and interactive media will receive 40% more views than a competitor’s site that is lacking media".Share this quote 5. Enhanced exposure.Virtual tours give properties maximum exposure of their accommodations 24/7 from anywhere, besides enhancing the hotel’s online presence.Moreover, increasing exposure maximizes the opportunity of closing sales, ultimately converting hits into customers.6. Another viral marketing technique?Easily shared via emails and social networks, virtual tours can be spread around the globe at the distance of one click. In fact, according to Property Week, properties that include virtual tours are, on average, clicked 10 times more than those that do not offer this service.In summaryVirtual tours are an innovative trend that is expanding to many new businesses. What started out as a way to promote museums, universities, real estate business and others, has now moved into the hotelier business.Virtual tours now comprise a vital piece of the sales puzzle, as they are highly accountable for a significant amount of conversion rates. And now Google’s virtual tours hotels can “showcase all the details that your customers love”, easily convincing them to book a stay at your hotel!To learn more about this revolutionizing feature, visit Google’s webpage and create your virtual tour and you are ready to go!According to Matt Dunne, Google’s head of community affairs, "Google’s mission is to make the world’s information universally useful and accessible" and with StreetView Virtual Tours hotels can share images of their property clearly and with high resolution. And all this for free, no additional costs are incurred.Nonetheless, do not forget that one of the advantages that contribute to higher sales is increased trust. Thus, certify that your property looks like the "real thing" customers will arrive to when they get there.This is a feature that can bring a huge return to hoteliers and takes only a small amount of time to implement. Don’t wait any longer to start testing the effectiveness of this marketing tool.NB: This is a viewpoint from Pedro Colaco, president and CEO of GuestCentric.